Science shows we make smarter purchases than we realize when stressed
Cher Horowitz had it right all along.
A new study reveals shoppers are more likely to make practical purchases, rather than splurge on luxury items, when they feel stressed.
The Journal of Consumer Research report analyzed several studies of shopping habits, and saw a surprisingly thrifty pattern emerge. In one study, customers who said they were experiencing a loss of control were far more likely to buy functional sneakers than flashier pairs. In another, shoppers who were asked to recall a time when they felt in total control of a situation then ended up buying practical supermarket products, such as cooking ingredients and household cleaners.
“Consumers who experience a loss of control are more likely to buy products that are more functional in nature, such as screwdrivers and dish detergent, because these are typically associated with problem solving, which may enhance people’s sense of control,” wrote the study authors. “Consumers may actually purchase more functional items because they want to feel that they can do something to exert control over their lives.
This echoes something Alicia Silverstone’s Cher Horowitz voiced in 1995’s “Clueless.” After flunking her driving test and getting into a fight with her best friend, she complains, “I felt impotent and out of control. Which I really, really hate. I had to find sanctuary in a place where I could gather my thoughts and regain my strength…”
Cue a wide shot of the mall.
Plus, science shows that retail therapy really does reduce sadness. So shop smart for a happiness boost without the buyer’s remorse.
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